New Byron Central Hospital checks out
TWO decades on from its original inception, equipment fit-outs and staff training are well underway at the newly constructed Byron Central Hospital in preparation for its mid-May opening.
The $88 million facility is the first of its kind in New South Wales to combine two separate hospitals and a health centre across three different sites into a single purpose-built hospital.
Investments in new features, including a $1 million CT scanner, enhanced X-Ray and ultrasound, has resulted in the hospital being able to deal with sicker patients under a higher emergency department classification.
Staffing at the new hospital has previously come under fire with the combined 32-staff funded beds between the old Mullumbimby and Byron hospitals reduced to 21 at the new hospital, with the capacity to increase to 43 inpatient beds in the future.
But Tweed/Byron Health Service Group executive director Bernadette Loughnane said staffing at the new hospital would be under a completely different model, which moves away from traditional "bed counting" models.
"When Byron Central Hospital opens we'll move to a new funding model which is called activity-based funding," she said.
"We've really moved away from counting beds to what the patient needs.
"So that four-hour treatment in ED, a short stay in the close observation bay and having on-site medical imaging means patients get quicker diagnostics and therefor it's most likely there stay will be shorter."
Ms Loughnane said the hospital would be staffed at higher levels over the peak periods of winter, Christmas and New Year, to deal with the increase in patient numbers.
The new hospital has the capacity to offer a surgical service in the future, however Ms Loughnane said negotiations were still underway and an expression of interest had been called for.
A key motif in the interior design of the hospital has been about "acknowledging and respecting" where the centre has come from, combining blue aquatic features associated with the old Byron Bay hospital and wood design associated with the hinterland-set Mullumbimby hospital and Bangalow Community Health Care Centre.
Three new large ceramic birthing baths as part of the low-risk maternity services ward currently delivered at Mullumbimby
A new sub-acute mental health inpatients unit
Enhanced X-ray and medical imaging, including ultrasound and 128-slice CT scanner
Satellite chemotherapy service and cancer care service
Ambulatory Care including community health, community nursing, allied health staff, community mental health and specialist clinics
195 on-site parking bays, 28 bicycle spaces and 16 motorcycle spaces
Construction of Byron Central Hospital began in late 2014/early 2015 with 'lock up' on the buildings achieved by early December 2015.
January 2016 - Landscaping and car parking completed
February 24, 2016 - Handover from builders to Northern NSW Local Health District
March 2016 - Full construction completed and preparation of the facility and its workforce begins in anticipation of opening, scheduled for May.
May 2016 - Hospital scheduled for opening with staged opening of sub-acute mental health inpatients unit.
The Byron Bay Hospital will be holding a Community Open Day on Saturday April 9. Hundreds have already registered for the tour and spaces are limited.
You can book a tour by visiting the website www.bchopenday.eventbrite.com.au or by calling 0409 984 488 before 9am Thursday April 7.